Thursday, July 2, 2009

Eco Logical

“There was a time, just a couple of years ago, when health club operators were talking seriously about sustainability. Clubs began writing green mission statements, organizations developed relevant conferences (The Green Marketing Conference) and web sites (, and green consultants came out of the (sustainable) woodwork to help businesses become eco-friendly. Then came the global economic meltdown, and going green immediately took a backseat to staying in the black. Take a trip around the web, and you can see the virtual trail of green health clubs run cold in the middle to latter part of 2008. To cite a few examples, six months after the last Green Marketing Conference (Dec. 3-4, 2008), the web site has not been updated; the last blog entry on was in October; and green consultants lauded in the media for their work with health clubs helped one or two clubs and then moved on to greener pastures. One of those environmental consultants, Jill Buck, has had a long involvement with sustainability, having founded in 2002 the nonprofit Go Green Initiative, which brings environmental education to schools around the globe. In 2007, she worked with ClubSport in Pleasanton, Calif., one of five Leisure Sports Inc. clubs attempting to become green businesses. Asked about her impression of the health club industry's commitment to sustainability in the two years since, Buck says, ‘I can't speak for other clubs, because honestly I haven't worked with any since ClubSport. But I can make a great case for why they should be, and why the downturn in the economy is actually an opportunity to retain their members, reduce their costs and save some money by going green. Whether they are or not, I couldn't tell you.’ Ralph Rajs, Leisure Sports' regional vice president of operations/wellness, was a panelist at a 2009 International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association convention seminar, Getting Started on "Going Green," as was Rudy Fabiano, president of Montclair, N.J.-based architecture firm Fabiano Designs. ‘Getting started’ is an apt description because, as Fabiano notes, after several years of green initiatives and burgeoning interest in the green concept, no health clubs have pursued or attained LEED certification, or any other measurable method of determining sustainability. ‘Everybody can say they're green, but how green are they, really?’ Fabiano asks.”

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